Saturday, 28 May 2011

Homeschooling How We Do It

Little-N is now 7 and it's been a year since I stopped working in a school and have set up my own homeschooling classroom. I haven't written much about what we do throughout the week, so I thought of taking this opportunity to write about what we do on our homeschooling adventure.

My week is extremely busy and full, I really don't have enough time in my life to do all the things I must do. I've taken on too much, but it's all got to be done and there is no one else to do it. I follow a schedule to make sure I get the balance right between family, home, business and teaching Little-N. This is how a typical week would be spent.

Monday- Wednesday:

Monday - Wednesday we have our homeschooling class from 9-1. This is the core time that me and Little-N spend in the classroom, we are joined by four other homeschooled children. We have a three hour work cycle, in which the children work with the materials and have a free snack. After the work cycle the children typically play outside till 1 and then go home.

Once the children go home, Little-N helps me prepare lunch. We sit and eat together. Next we do a quick tidy up, making sure everything is in it's place and clean. At 2 we are joined by another student. This student is 13 and is also homeschooled, he comes to me 3 days a week for 1.5 hours of tutoring. I am taking him through the later Montessori materials and he loves it. The student's Aunt teaches Little-N Arabic, so while I'm tutoring, Little-N has his Arabic lessons which he loves.

We finish the lessons at 3.30, and by that time I desperately need a break! Little-N will go off and do some independent reading and I will sit at my laptop checking emails and reading all your lovely blogs. After that I begin my chores of cooking, cleaning, washing and well I'm sure you know the lot. While I am doing my chores Little-N with either be helping, reading or playing. At some point in the day I try to take Little-N out to the park, we usually organise this with friends so that Little-N has some company. Later in the evening we water the garden and Little-N goes to bed at 8.30. While he's sleeping I spend hours making new materials and preparing for the next day.


Thursday used to be my FREE day where I didn't teach and I got to do other things that needed to be done. However I am now tutoring on Thursday mornings. While I tutor, Little-N has an Arabic lesson. On Thursday I try to spend some extra time with Little-N doing activities that we don't get to do while other children are around.


Friday is my meeting day where I am helping out the new Montessori school. We meet from the morning and the meetings usually last till 3. The meetings are at my home as the school is not set up yet. During the meetings Little-N usually plays in the garden, reads or draws. After the meeting, Little-N usually goes out with a friend of mine who often takes him to museums or parks, if I don't have to much work to do I join them.

Saturday and Sunday

These days are the family days, Little-N gets to see his cousins and other family members. My husband's family are Turkish, Turks are known for their love of barbecues, so we usually have a barbecue and Little-N loves that. We are very blessed to have married into a lovely and close family. At some point on Saturday Gem [my husband] will give Little-N a religious lesson, Little-N is learning so much from these lessons.

On Sunday Little-N attends a drama and story telling class that is run by a close friends of mine. He loves going to this class, he'll come home with a buzz singing new songs. Sunday evening is spent preparing the classroom for Monday.

Although we only spend three work cycles in the classroom, Little-N is learning throughout the day. My home is set up in a way that he is always reading, writing or playing beneficial games. At the moment, as I write this, Little-N is writing a love letter to me! He is very independent and will usually find educational things to do throughout the day. I'll post more later about what he has available to him in the environment that aids his independent learning.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Montessori Language Scheme

As a Montessori Elementary teacher who previously worked in an 3-6 classroom, I have had many opportunities to take children on a reading journey starting from playing the 'I spy game', progressing gently until they become better readers than I.

As many of you already know, in the Montessori method children learn to read phonetically. As far as I know we have two different English reading schemes that various Montessori teachers and organisations use. These are as follows:

The Muriel Dwyer method:

Here the children will begin the language scheme by various language games and the 'I spy game'. Dwyer identifies 40 sounds in the English language, 26 with single letter symbols and 14 with double letter symbols. Children are introduced to the sandpaper letters for the 40 sounds. 26 letters will be the usual a-z sandpaper letters and 14 will be of double letters and are usually on a green background. Once the children know all the letters they then work with the moveable alphabet making words which contain the 40 sounds. Children are provided with two baskets containing objects, the teacher will write words for each object for the child to read. The child will then progress onto 13 phonogram folders that contain different spellings for key sounds. This is a very short explanation of the Dwyer language scheme, you can read more about it on What We Do All Day, she has some great posts about this scheme. There is also a book written by Muriel Dwyer called 'A Path for the Exploration of Any Language Leading to Writing and Reading' and can be purchased here.

The Pink, Blue and Green series:

In this scheme the children will also begin with various language games and the I spy game. After completing these games, the children will begin working with the sandpaper letters learning the symbols for letter sounds a-z [letters can be learnt in any order]. Once the child has mastered all the sandpaper letters they will be introduced to the Pink Series. The pink series contains 3 letter phonetic CVC [consonant vowel consonant] words. The child will begin with making CVC words with the moveable alphabet and gradually progress through the materials to reading short stories that contain CVC words. Next is the blue series, here the child will be working with 4 letter phonetic words and progress onto much longer phonetic words. The child will begin with making the words and progress onto reading stories containing blue level words. Finally the child will work with the green series which contains phonograms and letter diagraphs.

There are also other schemes that I have seen being used in Montessori schools that are neither Dwyer nor Pink Blue and Green, but seem to be a combination of the two.

When I trained many years ago I learnt to use the Pink, Blue and Green series. I began working with the Pink Blue and Green series, but as time progressed and the children got older I noticed some short comings in the scheme. As the children progressed further and new children began working with the scheme, I was able to study the series further and managed to refine the scheme so that it works better and suited the needs of all children.

I have seen and witnessed the Dwyer scheme being used, I like some activities from it however from experience I have found the 40 sandpaper letters to be too much and at times confusing for the child. I have taken some activities from the Dwyer scheme and use them with the Pink Blue and Green series.

My next post will be about the Pink Series and with example of how it can be used at home.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Matching Sandpaper Letters to Moveable Alphabet

I got side tracked from my language posts that I wrote about here, here and here. I'm hoping to continue them in order to provide a resource for parents who are home-educating. It's best to start reading from the first post as I have sequenced the materials in order. If you have any questions leave me a comment.

Once your child has learnt about 85% of the letters in the alphabet, they're ready to move on. You continue the three period lesson with sandpaper letters, but you also start using the moveable alphabet.

Moveable alphabet presentation 1:

The first presentation of the moveable alphabet is simply a matching exercise. Introduce the child to the moveable alphabet by naming it. Show the child how to place it on a mat and open the box. Next ask the child to get the sandpaper letters and place the box on the mat. Explain to the child that the letters in the moveable alphabet box are the same as the letters they learnt with the sandpaper letters. Ask the child if they can name any familiar letters they see in the box.

Explain to the child that we are going to match the moveable alphabet to the sandpaper letters. Take a sandpaper letter, name it and place it on the mat. Show the child how to run a finger along the moveable alphabet box to search for the letter. It is important to show the child how to correctly search for a letter. If a child doesn't know how to search the box, they may take a very long time to find each letter and get put off the moveable alphabet.

Once the child has found the letter, they place it on the sandpaper letter, matching to see if the letters are the same. They continue in the same way taking a letter from the sandpaper letters and finding the matching letter in the moveable alphabet.

When the child has completed matching the letters, show them how to place the letters back in the box correctly. The child can then put the sandpaper letters back in the box and tidy up the activity.

Moveable alphabet presentation 2:

In this presentation the child is shown how to make words by placing letters next to each other.

The child can choose any word, even if it is not phonetic. The child can then use the moveable alphabet to make the words starting from the beginning letter. If the child completed the I spy games they should be able to break the word down in to individual sounds. It does not matter if the child spells the words incorrectly, this activity is only for seeing how the moveable alphabet is used to make words.

In this example the child wrote, fluwr-flower, letrs-letters and Ali. Once the child has understood the concept of using the moveable alphabet letters to make words, they're then ready to start on a language series.

My next post will be about the language series that I use.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Making materials

I am constantly making Montessori materials for my classroom. I have a list of things to make that is almost as tall as me. Every time I cross something off the list, I end up adding five more things. Everyday there is something I have to cut, print, laminate or make. I'm beginning to wonder when is this going to stop? Or at least when will it calm down?
Everything that I am making has to be made, so there's no way out of it. I wish I had some help, but I don't. I can't see a child's interest and let it go. I can't see them ready for something and not provide the activity. I have to keep going, I have to make the materials. I just wish I had more time in a day.
Anyone have any tips or ideas, so that I can manage to get more done?

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Geography maps giveaway winner

After consulting with the true number selector [at] the winner of my Georgaphy maps giveaway is.....

Amanda: there are no contact details on your profile so please email me at so that I can send you your prize.

Thank you to everyone who entered, sorry you didn't win :( I'll be hosting another giveaway soon so keep a look out.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Geography Maps and First Giveaway

I have had this blog for years and I think it's about time I host my first giveaway. I'm excited to see how it turns out. Keep reading for details to enter.

I have worked really hard to make these map sets for my classroom and have just recently added them to my shop. For each continent the set includes a download for:
- A control map labelled with countries - A control map labelled with cities - A coloured unlabelled map that can be used with labels or pin maps - A black and white countries unlabelled map for children to fill in - A black and white cities unlabelled map for children to fill in - A black and white flag unlabelled map for children to fill in - Labels for countries and capital cities in large and small

Ideally the maps should be used with the puzzle maps and the child will use the control maps to label the puzzle maps. However I have also added a blank coloured map for the children to work with instead if puzzle maps are not available. The sets included labels for the countries [written in bold] and cities [written in lower case], these labels can be printed in large to be used with puzzle maps or small to be used with printed maps. The sets also include worksheets for the children to colour and label themselves. There is a worksheet for countries, cities and flags.

Here is a picture of the maps being used with small labels.

Here is a picture of the maps being used with pin maps that are also available at my shop.

The maps are colour coded according to the standard Montessori puzzle map colours, so when worked with together they match nicely. Each map is also outlined with the continent colours. The maps are available as a download for each set per continent, or a complete set of all maps for six continents. I have worked really hard to make these and the children love them!

Now for the giveaway....

I am giving away one complete PDF set of all the maps for all the continents.
That means you get a chance to win all the maps and worksheets mentioned above and the labels.

To enter the giveaway, simply make sure you are following my blog and leave a comment on this post.

If you would like more than one entry to the giveaway then..
-Sign up to my shops newsletter and leave a second comment [Sign up at the bottom of shops home page]
-Post about this giveaway on your blog and leave a link in the comment

Please note that winner will receive a email with the downloads for all the PDF files. You are welcome to enter wherever you are on the globe.

This giveaway will end on Sunday the 8th of May 2011 at 1.00pm GMT time. The winner will be selected by a random generator and I will publish a new post for the winner on Sunday.

Good luck!